Sun, Sand and St. Barts

The island’s breathtaking landscape is a backdrop for luxury

By: Andréa R. Vaucher

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Guestrooms Eden Rock has been
an island landmark since the 1940s.
As you drive around the island of St. Barthelemy in the French Antilles, curving up and down steep hills, winding along windswept beaches and traversing salt marshes and coconut groves, you witness some of the most stunning vistas in the Caribbean.

The breathtaking diversity of the landscape is mirrored by the island’s array of luxury boutique hotels ranging from a 14-room jewel overlooking Gustavia Harbor, to a chic collection of 75 pastel-colored cottages complete with Clarins spa.

Since the most beautiful beaches on this tiny, eight-square-mile island have not been developed, and since the best part of a holiday here is exploring the beaches, advise your clients not to choose a hotel for its beach if it even has one.

Instead, help them choose a property based on their vacation expectations. Honeymooners desiring solitude and romance might choose Le Sereno, on one of the island’s most secluded beaches, or Le Toiny, on the remote south side of the island. If they want to be smack in the middle of the St. Barts’ jet-set scene, they’ll stay at the glamorous Eden Rock. If a full-service spa is at the top of their list, it’ll be the Guanahani or the St. Barth Isle-de-France. And the Carl Gustaf delivers laid-back, understated Gallic style, in the heart of Gustavia, the capital.

Eden Rock, a Relais & Chateaux property, is built on a rocky promontory jutting out into St. Jean’s Bay and has been an iconic island landmark since original owner Remy de Haenen landed the first plane on the island in the 1940s and bought the craggy peninsula for $200. All accommodations are unique and range from guest suites to the 8,000-square-foot Villa Nina, which rents for $13,000 a night complete with butler and a car collection.

The beachfront Sand Bar restaurant is the place to lunch and people-watch on the island; afterward, beautiful bikini-clad babes and their Cohiba-puffing boyfriends make their way to the lounges lining the hotel’s tiny beach to while away the afternoon.

Every detail in the 37 suites and villas at Hotel Le Sereno, each with a private terrace, steps from the beach, was created or chosen by famed Parisian designer Christian Liaigre, from the exotic woods to the luxurious ExVoto Paris bath amenities.

The hotel’s pool, set back from the surf, is surrounded by sumptuous daybeds where guests sunbathe or snuggle while cabana boys distribute complimentary chocolates made by Le Sereno’s unrivaled pastry chef. Restaurant des Pecheurs, has some of the finest food on the island, served in what might be the most dramatic open-air dining room in the Caribbean. This hotel has raised the bar, when it comes to service.

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Le Gaiac, at Le Toiny, is one of the
best restaurants on the island.
St.-Barth Isle de France, owned by the local Anglican pastor, is a colonial-style, surf-and-sand sanctuary. The 33 rooms, suites and bungalows cascade down a lushly landscaped hill to beautiful Flamands Beach; amenities include two pools, a flood-lit tennis court rare on the island and a Molton Brown spa with outdoor treatment rooms.

The Case de L’Isle beachfront restaurant is a good place to savor the island’s fresh fish or linger over drinks at sunset.

The Guanahani, a member of Leading Small Hotels of the World, is ensconced on a 16-acre private peninsula, which juts into a shallow lagoon a perfect beach for young children. The hotel’s 75 rooms and suites are spread out among a collection of gaily-painted West Indian-style cottages with gingerbread trim.

Amenities include two restaurants, tennis courts and a new Clarins spa.

Preferred Boutique’s family-run Carl Gustaf, built into a hillside above picture-perfect Gustavia Harbor, has 14 suites, each with a spectacular view and private plunge pool. From the hotel, you can walk to the stylish shops in Gustavia or to Shell Beach, the best swimming beach on the island. The hotel bar is an elegant and legendary spot for catching the sunset.

Le Toiny, another Relais & Chateaux property, is off the beaten track on the windward side of the island, which means navigating an extremely windy road back to the hotel after wining and dining in Gustavia or St. Jean. One option might be to dine only at the hotel’s restaurant, Le Gaiac, which wouldn’t be too much of a hardship, as it is one of the best restaurants on the island.

The 15 villas, with their private pools, are among the most luxurious accommodations on the island; definitely a great place for honeymooners planning to never leave the room.


If clients are looking to rent a villa, get in touch with Peg Walsh’s St. Barths Properties. Walsh, who has been coming to the island since the 1980s, has an extensive collection of stunning homes for rent by the week.

You can also learn more about, or book, any of the above hotels directly through Walsh, who pays a 10 percent agent commission.

For car rentals, try Gumbs and deal directly with Odile Gumbs. The family-owned company will give clients a discount if you book direct.
Email Odile Gumbs

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Eden Rock

Hotel Carl Gustaf

Isle de France


Le Sereno

Le Toiny